Parenting Through Puberty10:38 AM
Parenting through puberty is a mix of talking to your child about puberty and understanding signs of puberty yourself. Support through puberty is vital.
Parenting Through Puberty Is Unchartered Territory, Even For Those Of Us Who Have Been TherePuberty has changed since you and I went through it. It starts earlier, lasts longer, and has been forever altered as a result of the digital age. We invited mother-writer Amanda Magee to take HelloFlo and VProud's Master Class, Parenting Through Puberty and reflect on her own experience with puberty and parenting and the way these two words interplay beautifully and scarily all at once. Parenting Through Puberty is taught by Dr. Cara Natterson, pediatrician and author of the wildly popular and informative, The Care and Keeping of You books. In the class, Dr. Natterson doles out sound parenting advice and wisdom from her years as a practicing pediatrician, adolescent educator, and parent. This is a fascinating look at your child’s life, delivered with practical advice for maintaining a healthy dialogue with your child. The teaching is deep and straight-forward, with a wealth of new information to take in. Below, Amanda weaves a look at puberty as she remembers it and as she parents it. We love the bird's eye view that Amanda gifts us as she shares what most of us know to to be true—there are a lot of unknowns in parenting this age group and we absolutely have so much to learn right alongside our kids. Take a look at Amanda's brutally honest essay and see if her view of parenting through puberty matches yours or if it opens up an honest conversation between you and your tween or maybe you and a friend who are both parenting through puberty.
—The VProud Team
On Not Parenting Babies Anymore
By Amanda Magee for VProud
When I was a tween, which I don’t think was actually a word that was used in the 80s, I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables. There was something about the pacing of her life, the highs and lows she lived so unapologetically and, particularly this, the way she was the heroine without being perfect.
I clung to her as I found myself moving more slowly than girls around me. I didn’t want to date. I wasn’t interested in make-up. I thought the shoes of the moment, little slip on denim colored sneakers, were absurd looking. Classmates giggled coquettishly at recess instead of sprinting to the monkey bars with me. I felt like a misfit being flat-chested, periodless, and wholly disinterested in what seemed to preoccupy my classmates. It was as if the school playground suddenly had a chasm, with all the girls on one side and me way over on the other where everything still made sense.
“Oh", she thought, "how horrible it is that people have to grow up-and marry-and change!” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island
I made a few half-hearted attempts to conform, but I couldn’t trust myself to stay engaged in the charade, just as I couldn’t understand what was happening to my body. When my period came, I was 11 and a half. I thought that in some ways that might help me gain purchase into the sisterhood, but the truth was I still wanted to play like we had in fourth and fifth grade.
“Don't try to make me grow up before my time…”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Thirty years later and I have a tween of my own. Like me, she isn’t keeping pace with how fast her classmates move toward dating and make-up. I know that her experiences will be different than mine, so I am trying to be close enough to answer questions without being so involved that I project my own experience in ways that eclipse her life.
I’ve been working to create a space, in my mind and in our house that makes this time less fraught with uncertainty and frustration. We have all of the Care and Keeping of You series on a shelf in their book collection, the pages already dog-eared. They’ve made it easy for us to talk without feeling awkward. I’ve created a cabinet in the bathroom that has cleansers, washcloths, and even little acne pads. A few weeks ago I told all three of my daughters about the importance of washing their faces frequently.
“You guys can use these whenever you want.”
“Thanks, mom. Do you think you should have pads for us, you know, for just in case?” asked my middle daughter, who is two years younger than I was when I got my period in the middle of gym class.
“That is a great idea. Here is my basket where I keep all of my stuff. You can use any of it and I will also buy you whatever you need when it’s time,” I said.
“But mom, I don’t want to use tampons, like ever,” said my other daughter. I laughed and told her that she would always be in control of those choices.
I’m working hard to measure my responses. I feel like part of my job is to separate the babies I bore from the young women that I am raising. If their clothes are clean and relatively weather appropriate, they get to wear them. Doesn’t matter if they don’t match or if I prefer that they were something else. If they love a particular singer, then we listen to that music. Sometimes this means I have to explain lyrics other times it means that we talk about the difference between performance and life and the significance of our choices, from who we hang out with to how we present ourselves. Jokes about boys and shotguns have no room in working through puberty, I am grateful that my husband and I agree about that. I want my girls to know about sex and their bodies.
I don’t remember when I first discovered hair in my armpits. I can’t remember my first break out. I am humbled by how quickly it’s all happening, but also how naturally we are rolling with it. Honestly there is a lot I don’t know, but in creating a relationship where I encourage them to ask me questions, I need to be slightly more clear on some of the particulars, so I am learning and researching, and sometimes I am saying, “You know what? I’m not sure. Let’s work on getting some of this figured out together.”
About the author: Amanda Magee lives in Upstate New York where she and her husband are raising their three daughters and running Trampoline, a marketing and communications agency. She writes at AmandaMagee.com and has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Club Mid, Mamalode, and Brain Child, Magazine. Join Amanda at the Parenting Through Puberty discussion on VProud.
More Real Women Learn From
HelloFlo & VProud's Master Classes
- “All The Things They Didn’t Tell Us” A reflection on Understanding Your Sexual Dysfunction by Rochelle Frisch
- “Free” A reflection on Balancing Sugar In Your Diet by Angie Kinghorn
- “Gaining Control Of Your Body—All Of It” A reflection on Controlling Your Leaking by Denise LaRosa
- “Learn The Difference Between Behavior And Temperament and Make Your Parenting Toolkit Explode” A reflection on Decoding Your Child's Behavior by Nanea Hoffman
- “On Not Parenting Babies Anymore” A reflection on Parenting Through Puberty by Amanda Magee
- “Once Upon A Time, A Different Kind Of Happily Ever After Story” A reflection on Fertility for Beginners by Kirsten Piccini
This post is part of a brand new partnership between VProud and HelloFlo to solve the Dr. Google problem. Stop wasting time with Dr. Google and get your important health and parenting information from best-in-class experts. Details about our Master Classes can be found on HelloFlo.